On October 27th we mentionned about possible financial difficulties that Claro Watch SA might be experiencing. This speculation came after the sudden decision of headquarters in Bienne, Switzerland, to shut down the Bellinzona factory. The town of Bellinzona is located South of the Alps, in the Italian-speaking part of the country.
Claro Watch SA operates in the field of private label watches and movement finishing, and is known for supplying the controversial calibre 888, a movement built from chinese blanks and refinished and assembled in Switzerland. As reported by Gregory Pons on November 16th on BusinessMontres.com, Claro Watch SA officially filed for bankrupcy on November 8th 2010. Not much is said of the causes of this demise, nor regarding the fate of its sister-company George J von Burg, also located in Bienne.
Suporters of tougher criterions for the Swiss Made label are probably relieved that one of the few companies who tried to play through loopholes is now out of business. According to archives of Claro Watch CEO’s Linkedin page, the company employed some 30 collaborators in Bienne, which brings the amount of workers sent home to some 48 people.
Watch brands that have been sourcing calibres 888 from Claro Watch, or relying upon their private label services, are now left without a supplier. It has to be said though that calibre 888 has the exact case, dial and hand fitting as the Miyota 8200 family. It is not a coincidence because calibre 888 has very likely been derived from Miyota‘s 8200 base. This leaves the option for those brands to convert their watches to Japanese movements… which would no longer be labeled as Swiss Made and would not allow to charge the 30% premium.